Refuse plant eyes generator

TRUMAN – A new generator would lower Prairieland’s utility bill and could benefit Truman residents, Jeff Jansen of Truman Public Utilities told the Prairieland board Friday.

He had visited the board in August to explain how running a generator during peak times of electrical usage could benefit the facility. Using a generator also could lower the peak energy usage for the city, which would help Truman Public Utilities, because it could buy electricity at a lower rate.

On Friday, Jansen said Truman Public Utilities has lawyers looking over a contract that he hopes to present to the board next month.

Jansen said the peak-shaving window is from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., and running a generator to cut usage could save Truman $87,552 in the first year.

“If our cost goes down because you shaved peak, you will get the benefits,” Jansen noted.

He said Truman Public Utilities would turn over $57,600 to Prairieland while the remaining $20,000 would benefit other customers.

Jansen said Truman Public Utilities would help Prairieland work out a relationship with WFS in which the two entities could share the generator’s energy and costs.

“This project should not go forward if it’s not economical for Prairieland and the city,” Jansen made clear.

Board members asked how the generator would be controlled and how loud it would be.

Jansen said it is possible for the generator to be set up so Truman Public Utilities could turn it on when the facility is drawing too much power. The generator would only run when the plant is open, not on weekends.

He said a generator is not too loud, but it depends on where it is located how annoying it might be to neighbors.

“Can we consume it all? Will we have surplus?” asked Tom Warmka, Faribault County commissioner.

“The generator is carrying most of your load, but not all of it, so we don’t have a backfeed,” Jansen said.

Faribault County Commissioner Greg Young asked about buying a used generator to save some money. Jansen said that’s possible, but any used generator would probably have to be upgraded to meet environmental standards.

Turning to other business, the board approved increasing the employee individual life insurance policy from $5,000 to $20,000, to bring it in line with other Martin County policies. That amounts to an increase of $315 per year total for Prairieland, said plant director Billeye Rabbe.

“Employees don’t pay anything; it’s a benefit,” she said. “Hope we never need it.”

Turning to another topic, Rabbe presented a 2014 budget summary to the board.

“The bottom line shows we will be in the black, when in the past, we’ve been in the red,” she said.

“We need to watch repairs because maintenance costs us money,” Rabbe noted.

When the facility is down for repairs, Prairieland must transport refuse to a landfill – not something it wants to do.

“Going to the dump costs us money and we want to produce renewable energy,” Rabbe said.